care of grasses - Knowledgebase Question

olympia, Wa
Question by hdemoyse
September 24, 2010
Pat,are mexican feather grass and stipa tenuissima one and the same? I have planted a mass of them under the impression they are perenials, but I may have been duped!do theses grasses get cut like others in the late winter? Also, I was given a pampas grass that is a monster, should I split it, or treat it like a noxious weed and dispose of it?(its a big plant, and im not getting any younger!)


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Answer from NGA
September 24, 2010

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Mexican feather grass is the common name for Stipa tenuissima which is also known as Nassella tenuissima. It can be perennial in our gardening zone, providing the soil drains really well. I grow it and it is lovely. I prune mine in the spring rather than during the winter months. I like the way the dead foliage looks during the winter time and if we have snow the foliage bends down and provides insulation to the roots of the plants, protecting them from cold temperatures. In the spring you can pull the dead foliage from the plants. I wear rubber gloves and simply grab a handful and pull it straight up. It comes off the plant without problem and doesn't leave stubs. You can certainly prune it back with sharp pruners, if you prefer. As for the pampas grass, it can become invasive unless you faithfully remove the plumes before they develop seeds. This will stop volunteer plants from cropping up all over your landscape and your neighborhood. However, removing the plumes won't keep the plant from growing in girth and evenually becoming a huge clump. If it were in my landscape I think I'd dig it out now. If you allow it to become mature you'll need a backhoe to remove the extensive root system. (Just my humble opinion.) Best wishes with your landscape.

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